Finding myself unexpectedly over the Spencer Street end of the city one day around lunch time, where I ordinarily never go, I thought to myself “This is uncharted territory! I should go eat somewhere awesome, considering I might not end up this side of the grid again for a long while.” Only one name was ever in contention: EARL Canteen.
Now, you have probably heard of EARL being the purveyors of the fabled pork belly-based SEX SANDWICH that has seen itself be foodgasmed over all across the internets and then some. Being vegie, I cannot partake of the fabled sex sandwich, yet I had also heard tales of a mighty mushroom sandwich that made my tummy very keen to give it a home.
The mushroom sandwich consists of roast field mushies, goats’ curd, chestnuts, rocket and pesto squished between two pieces of ciabatta. As they make everthing to order at EARL, my sandwich arrived full of mushrooms still piping hot from the pan. This was no ordinary sandwich – this was sandwich HEAVEN. The mushrooms were bursting in tasty goodness, the pesto was full of tang, and the chestnuts added this woody flavour that just kicked everything else up a notch. And the secret star of the whole thing turned out to be the goat’s curd, oh my goodness! The creaminess of it, it was obscenely good.
A quick mention of the staff at EARL, who are delightfully welcoming, friendly and courteous, and always seem up for a foodie chat. It contributes to a wonderful atmosphere, and if you’re a lingering luncher like myself it’s a lovely space to while away an afternoon in.
I also took away with me a little passionfruit macaron with a chocolate ganache centre. Firstly, a digression about macarons: despite having great respect for how hard they are to make, and getting into a frothing rage whenever I hear anyone referring to them as “macaroons”, to be honest I don’t really get the absolute passion that many people hold for them, and am quite mystified as to why they’ve become so popular. They’re just BISCUITS. They’re not even CAKE (and cake is not even PIE, this is the ascent of the dessert pyramid). And they’re very sweet biscuits at that. Too sweet. That’s right, I, the Queen of Sweet, am decreeing that macarons are too sweet!
Nevertheless, I keep trying them, convinced that if I just eat enough of the things I’ll suddenly have a lightbulb pop above my head and will finally understand what all the fuss has been about. And seeing as many macaron aficionados seemed to agree that EARL’s macaron offerings are on the impressive end of the scale, I really couldn’t walk away without trying one!
The verdict? Well, let’s just say I had at the very least a half-bulb. The macaron had a nice chewy bite to it, but I didn’t sense the passionfruit until I hit the middle of the chocolate ganache and suddenly felt a fruity burst spread across my tongue – all the passionfruit flavour had been infused into the chocolate! That was pretty impressive. I would definitely like to try more of EARL’s macarons, they’re the best I’ve come across in my, admittedly lackdaisical, samplings, though I do think these are viciously sweet treats, I couldn’t eat more than one at a time (defeated by sweet, I am ashamed).
EARL Canteen is, simply put, delightful, and a much-needed antidote to insipid sandwich bars. For vegetarians in particular they provide exciting vegie sandwiches that tread ground far away from the over-played roast vegetable sandwich that plagues us. Get on your bikes and pay EARL a visit, scoot!
500 Bourke Street (mosey round the back to the Little Bourke courtyard), Melbourne CBD
Ph: 9600 1995